As part of the proposed changes to existing welfare laws, the Bush Administration has introduced an initiative that would allow states to place unemployed welfare recipients into community service jobs that pay below the national minimum wage of $5.15 per hour. While Administration officials says the move would provide welfare recipients with work experience, they claim that the work performed “is not something that be subject to minimum wage laws,” according to Andrew Bush, a welfare official in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (NOW LDEF), a vocal critic of Bush welfare reform proposals, said that it was disappointed in this latest move by the Administration. NOW LDEF cites the need for increased access to education and job training programs as a more effective means of reducing welfare dependency. The Bush Administration, however, is also proposing changes that would require welfare recipients to work at least 24 hours per week, but would no longer allow recipients to count time spent looking for work or participating in job training towards the work requirement.